Asia-Pacific

Japan suspends rescue ops in still-erupting volcano crisis

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Japanese rescue workers have been forced to suspend rescue operations amid toxic gases and ash from a still-erupting volcano at Mount Ontake.

According to the reports, the suspension of the rescue efforts came on Monday as rescuers retrieved eight more bodies from the ash-covered peak by helicopter.

More than 200 soldiers and firefighters were deployed near the peak of Mount Ontake as part of the search and rescue mission.

The number of the people reported killed as a result of the volcanic activity stands at 31.

The rescuers had earlier returned to 3,067-meter Mt. Ontake in a bid to recover the remaining 27 bodies.

A number of the rescue workers have reportedly retreated to lower areas of the mountain to wait out the persisting volcanic activity.

They have so far managed to fly down 12 bodies from the ash-blanketed peak.

It remains unclear, however, how the victims have died, with possible factors cited as toxic gases, suffocating ash, and falling rocks, among other possible causes.

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